[Updates, two so far, at end of post]
Why Rupe and his downmarket troops were so eager to get the Super Soaraway Sunday Steamer up and running came clear yesterday as the Leveson Inquiry resumed its hearings, with the beginning of Module 2, covering relationships between the Fourth Estate and the Police. And critics of the Inquiry, from Trevor Kavanagh to “Oiky” Gove, may wish they had kept schtum a little longer.
Because, almost from the word go, the revelations went from grim to a lot worse, starting with the genesis of Phonehackgate. Here, the Met knew full well that hacking had gone on on an industrial scale, yet they played down the extent to which Glenn Mulcaire had taken notes, and only prosecuted him, along with Clive Goodman. They then let News International (NI) in on the whole thing.
Yes, a senior officer at the Met contacted Rebekah Wade (as she then was), briefed her on the affair, and confirmed that no further action would be taken. A cosier and more blatantly corrupt arrangement would be hard to imagine. And it might have remained that way, had Neil “Wolfman” Wallis not tried a little too hard to shout down Nick Davies when the latter was promoting Flat Earth News.
All this caused some raising of eyebrows yesterday, but this turned out to be a mere curtain raiser for today’s bombshell: that it appears Screws hacks were interfering in a murder investigation. The murder was that of Daniel Morgan, found with an axe in the back of his head at the wheel of his car in a South London pub car park. Morgan had apparently unearthed police corruption.
One of those on trial for Morgan’s murder was his business partner at Southern Investigations, Jonathan Rees, a private investigator who supplied significant quantities of illegally obtained information to the Screws. It was because details of the trial were sub judice at the time that much of the information given to Young Dave about Andy Coulson by the Guardian could not be made public.
The excuse from NI, when confronted with evidence of their surveillance on Chief Superintendent David Cook and his wife Jacqui Hames, was that they had evidence of an affair between the two, and there was a public interest angle as (then) WPC Hames was a presenter on BBC Crimewatch. As it was public knowledge that they were in fact married, this was clearly crap.
Rees got off the murder charge, but had been convicted in the meantime for perverting the course of justice. This proved no bar to Coulson re-hiring him to work for the Screws. I’m sure that Coulson would not have allowed himself to be swayed by Rees’ known connections to a number of bent coppers who could supply information to oil the wheels of NI’s particular brand of journalism.
Oh, and “Oiky” Gove isn’t the only one in the cabinet close to all of this. Is he, Dave?
[UPDATE1 29 February 0940 hours: this blog is not the only one pointing up this story. The lack of media attention garnered yesterday has been highlighted by Sunny Hundal at Liberal Conspiracy, with screenshots comparing the coverage given by the websites of Channel 4 News (significant) and the BBC (negligible).
Fortunately, the matter is being kept in the public eye by Labour MP Tom Watson, who has secured an adjournment debate on the death of Daniel Morgan. This will take place in the Commons later today]
[UPDATE2 1 March 1800 hours: the full text from the adjournment debate can be seen HERE (scroll down to 4pm). For those wondering what point is served by this, remember that the statement by Tom Watson and response by Nick Herbert - a minister has to attend and respond - are got on to the Parliamentary record, and in full.
Herbert's reply also puts on record the Government's commitment to seeing justice done for the family of Daniel Morgan]